A Minnesota jury on Friday declined to convict the officer who fatally shot Philando Castile as his girlfriend streamed the incident on Facebook Live last July.
In addition to evading charges for second-degree manslaughter, Officer Jeronimo Yanez was also acquitted of two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm. Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, and her 4-year-old daughter were in the car when Yanez fired into the vehicle.
Castile’s death, which came during a summer of highly-publicized police killings, sparked nationwide protests due to the brutal broadcast of him dying, which was captured on the popular social media platform. Yanez, who pulled Castile and Reynolds over for a broken tail light, testified that he feared for his life during the interaction. During the trial, Yanez’s partner — Joseph Kauser — also took the stand, admitting that the officer believed Castile resembled a robbery suspect. Days after the elementary school cafeteria worker was killed, disturbing audio recording of a police scanner revealed that he may have been stopped for that very reason.
“The driver looks more like one of our suspects, just ‘cause of the wide-set nose,” the officer on the recording can be heard saying.
Yanez testified that his fear stemmed from learning Castile had a gun. Castile had a license to carry and informed the officer he had a gun permit, just before he was shot to death.
The jury came to the decision not to convict the officer after 29 hours of deliberation.
Reports from the courtroom describe a family distraught about the outcome of the trial. The victim’s mother, Valerie Castile, reportedly left the courtroom upon hearing the verdict.
According to Fox News 9, this is the first time in Minnesota history that a police officer was charged for fatally shooting a citizen. Sadly, a conviction did not follow in this brutal and disturbing case that further affirms the strained relationship between law enforcement and the Black community.
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